Mosquitoes tricked into delivering vaccines

Parasites become flying syringes


MSN News headlines that scientists have managed to turn mosquitoes into a vaccine delivery system.

Their source is the news website NPR, reporting that a clinical trial for a system meant to use the parasites to deliver vaccines has been underway in the UK, although they also refer to trials on the other side of the Atlantic. The findings of the UK trial have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

According to the paper, scientists were able to genetically modify mosquitoes to deliver malaria vaccines through their bites. It sounds intriguing on paper and even more horrific in practice when you see the photos featured in a report on the trial from NPR.

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Those photos can be seen in the original report and show the results of trial participants being bitten hundreds of times. To get the desired effect of the mosquitos delivering the vaccine, scientists loaded them with genetically modified parasites known as Plasmodium falciparum. In the past, scientists have tried to do something similar. However, this is the first time gene editing has been used to accomplish it.

Mosquitoes become flying syringes

The result is basically 1,000 small flying syringes, a researcher told NPR. And based on the photos featured in that same report, it does look like that, as one image shows a participant’s arm wholly covered in welts from the mosquito bites they suffered. The biggest problem with using mosquitos to deliver vaccines for malaria, though, is the effectiveness.

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According to the study’s results, 14 of 26 participants who were exposed to malaria contracted the illness. That means the mosquito vaccine delivery system is only around 50% effective. But, that doesn’t mean this was a failure — it just means that some improvements need to be made. It’s also important to realize that the scientists don’t intend to release swarms of genetically modified mosquitos, either.

Instead, they want to use the mosquitos to deliver vaccines in a more controlled fashion. The researchers told NPR that releasing a massive number of these mosquitos is an intriguing proposition. But, doing so would raise very deep questions about medical consent and bioethics as they couldn’t control who was inoculated and exposed.

Thanks to PeterA for the link

COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post

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All the incidental news from Madeira – up to 60 reports per day – is being continually picked up automatically, translated, and instantly posted on our sister website, no matter how trivial

8 thoughts on “Mosquitoes tricked into delivering vaccines”

  1. What excellent news indeed . For people that have allergies to them it is some good news instead end up in the emergency’s service like me end up going .


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